Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Potato Pierogies

Pierogies are one of those foods that I never ate growing up but developed a wonderful appreciation for them after moving to the East Coast. They aren't the best dumpling (that award goes to Xiao long bao) and they're not even the best use of potatoes (that's samosas) but these are still pretty fantastic. They are cheesy bombs of starch that are so bad for you and so delicious. I feel a little guilty when I eat them, like eating knish or potato curry on top of rice. In general, eating starch on top of starch makes me feel guilty about my life choices.
These are cute for an appetizer or great for a vegetarian main dish with a salad. You can boil your pierogies and leave as is, or you can boil and then pan fry them in copious amounts of butter (obviously the more delicious way).
Ingredients for dough
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour
Ingredients for filling
  • 6 potatoes, peeled and boiled.
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper
  • cheddar cheese (about a handful)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced and sautéed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • pinch of dry thyme.
  1. Cook potatoes for filling and mash. Mix in butter, salt, pepper, cheese, sautéed onion, garlic and thyme. Stir until well combined (can be a little gummy because this will keep everything together better in the pierogi. Set aside and let cool.
  2. Mix together eggs and sour cream for the filling. Add salt and baking powder then add flour (more may be needed). Add flour as needed to knead the dough into a smooth ball.
  3. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness (or a little thinner) and cut into circles with a 2 or three inch cutter (depending on the size you want). Fill dough with filling and press edges with a fork to seal. Freeze flat on a baking sheet before putting in a bag to save for later.
  4. To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Drop pierogis in and let cook for about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, sautee onions, celery and some sauerkraut in a mix of butter and bacon fat. Remove vegetables. Sautee boiled pierogies in the same pan, adding more butter or fat if necessary. Brown well on both sides
  5. Add vegetables back to the pan and toss quickly. Remove to plate and serve with extra sour cream and sauerkraut if desired.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Japanese Style Cheesecake

I have never been a cheesecake fan. I know, that seems like blasphemy. So many people love cheesecake but I've always found it to be too heavy and rich. This is one the few cheesecakes I love because it has the flavors of cheesecake, but the lightness of a soufflé. I cannot recommend this enough.
Sometimes when I have extra cream cheese, I'll make half a recipe in a small 4 inch springform pan. I serve it with fresh fruit or a fruit syrup.
Japanese Cheesecake

  • 300 grams cream cheese
  • 45 grams unsalted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20 grams sugar
  • 11 grams cornstarch
  • 150 grams milk
  • 55 grams sugar
  • 3 egg whites

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Melt butter over a double boiler with cream cheese until both ingredients are combined.
  3. Mix yolks, 20 grams sugar and starch separately.
  4. Heat milk and temper into the egg yolks. Mix those into the cream cheese
  5. Beat egg whites until peaks form. Add the 55 grams of sugar.
  6. Fold into the cream cheese mixture. Pour into prepared 8inch springform pan and bake for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 325, bake 25 minutes, then turn oven off and leave cake for another 40 minutes


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Salmon Cake and Pumpkin Beer Bread

It's the third Monday of the month again. That means it's time for Group C to reveal their Secret Recipe Club picks for this month. I'm sure you all know the drill by now. Secret Recipe Club is a group of bloggers that make another member's recipe (in secret) and reveal them on a particular day. Everyone gets to explore new recipes by new people. My favorite part is seeing what other people make from my recipe collection because they can sometimes unearth some very old recipes (with very terrible photos).

It might be September, but even as I write this it doesn't feel like autumn. It's still hot and humid outside and I still think it's too early to be serving pumpkin spice lattes (even though I made pumpkin bread...how ironic). Work is getting very busy (a good and bad thing) but the best thing about September is FOOTBALL. I never though I'd be so excited about football, but my husband has had quite an influence on me.

This month, I got to explore Heather's blog Join Us Pull Up a Chair. Heather started her blog for many of the same reasons I did: to give some order to the stacks of magazine clippings and printed recipes and dog-eared pages of cookbooks. Now I have some semblance of order for my recipe collection. Heather is a mother and business owner. I don't know how so many of these women do it: finding time to blog and work and raise children. I'll probably find time to do it eventually, but I'm not there yet.

This month I found so many interesting recipes on Heather's blog. I was set to make these salmon cakes, but then one of my coworkers who loves pumpkin spice everything was having a really bad week, so I knew I had to make a loaf of her pumpkin bread (even though it's still way to early for that stuff).

Thanks for the awesome recipes Heather. Glad I got the chance to explore your awesome blog.

Salmon Cakes for 2 (adapted from Join Us, Pull Up a Chair)

  • 6-8 oz salmon filets, cooked.
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 3 Tbsp mayo (or to taste)
  • salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
  • 2 Tbsp panko for the cakes, plus extra for the outside
  • eggs
  1. Cook salmon and chill completely. Flake apart with a fork.
  2. Mix salmon with other ingredients the same way you would make tuna salad. Form mix into two patties (you can do 3 patties, but these were larger, more burger sized ones)
  3. Dredge the patties in extra panko, egg and panko again. Pan fry in a little olive oil until a good crust forms on both sides.
  4. Serve with a salad if desired. I served mine on a ciabatta roll with wilted spinach, pickled onions and dill sauce.

Pumpkin Beer Bread (makes 2 loaves). If you only want to make one loaf and have extra for another day, take a look at Heather's original recipe.

  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 bottle pumpkin beer
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups flour (I used a white/wheat blend just because I like the flavor)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and spray two 9x5 loaf pans
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, sugars, beer, oil, eggs and spices
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add those slowly to the liquid ingredients.
  4. Pour into loaf pans and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove pans from oven. Let bread cool in pans completely before slicing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Bengal style Dal

Dal is one of my favorite Indian food side dishes. My husband hates it because he just hates lentils, and I occasionally hate it because there are so many ways of making dal. You can have the more watery, soupy kind or the more dry kind. You can do so many things with it, yet I only like it a select few ways.
I got this dal recipe a long time ago from a random 1970s book on curries found on a friend's bookshelf. I made a copy and have made this recipe so many times, however, I no longer remember the original book. I've made some edits to make this recipe less sweet and closer to my tastes, but it's really wonderful as a side for Indian food. This dal is not as soupy (but could be more so). If you desire a sweeter dal, add some golden raisins while they are cooking.
Bengal style Dal
  • 9 oz chana dal
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch piece ginger, minced
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • cilantro and raisins (or prunes) for garnish
  • oil, salt, water
  1. Soak dal water for 20 minutes. drain.
  2. Cook dal for 20 minutes in 2 1/2 cups water for 20 minutes. Add 1 tsp salt. In a separate pan, sautee garlic, ginger, chili and bay leaf.  After 2 minutes, add spices and stir. Then add tomato and cook 4 minutes.
  3. Add mixture to dal and boil until grains are very soft but still separate. Add more water as necessary and adjust to taste with salt and sugar.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jerk Chicken Summer Rolls

I can't believe it's already September. It's almost the end of summer and that fact makes me a little sad. We've gone on a few small trips and work is finally starting to pick back up again (much to my relief and chagrin). I'm looking forward to a little cooler weather (no more 93 degree humid days) but I'm not looking forward to the winter and the snow. I guess you can't have everything.

Earlier this summer, I tried this out as a "fusion" theme dish. These summer rolls are a great appetizer for a hot summer day. They're light and refreshing, mingling sweet, sour and spicy together. The jerk chicken and mango add another level of complexity to the dish that's offset perfectly by the pickled carrots and daikon. Give it a try next time you need a fun party appetizer.

Note: you can use whatever jerk chicken recipe you want, and if you want to make regular summer rolls, just omit the mango and make regular grilled chicken breasts instead. For my jerk chicken, I just use Walkerswood brand seasoning.  You can also serve this with nuoc cham (fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar and thai chilis) or peanut sauce, depending on your preference)

Ingredients for rolls
  • 1 pack spring roll wrappers
  • 21-25 shrimp, steamed, chilled, and cut in half down the center (you will need 1 or 1 1/2 shrimp per roll, depending on the size of your wrapper)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • jerk chicken breast, cooled and cut thinly
  • fresh mint
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh mango, julienned
  • rice vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and chilled
  • butter lettuce or red leaf
  • pickled carrots and daikon
Ingredients for simple peanut sauce
  • 2 spoonfulls of peanut butter
  • 1 spoon of hoisin sauce
  • sriracha
  • hot water
  1. To make the peanut sauce, mix everything together and add hot water until you reach the correct consistency. Adjust seasoning to taste
  2. For the rolls, cut all ingredients for your mis en place. Get a bowl (or large plate with an edge) of warm water. Move the spring roll wrapper in the water until pliable. Transfer to a work surface
  3. Start with 2 or three pieces of shrimp an top with your whole basil leaves (to create a green background for the shrimp) Top with your chicken, vermicelli, mango and other herbs. The amount that goes in the roll will take practice
  4. Wrap and set aside covered with a damp towel to keep moist until you finish the others.
  5. Serve with lettuce, herbs, pickled vegetables and your desired sauces.
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